How to Choose Healthy Snacks

Girl eating apple
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Most people like to eat snacks—sometimes out of habit or boredom, and sometimes because of real hunger. If you're snacking because you're bored, call a friend or go for a walk. But if you're hungry, choose a snack that's nutritious. A snack can be a big calorie blow-out if you choose a large bowl of ice cream or a bag of greasy chips. But a snack can also be an easy way to answer your hunger and close nutrient gaps.

Try These Healthy Snack Ideas

A snack can be a good source of nutrition if you choose wisely. Eating fruits, vegetables, or whole grain crackers, for example, can add plenty of nutrients and fiber.

Think of your snack as a mini-meal. Keep it balanced by choosing a little protein, a bit of healthful fat, and some carbohydrates, like you'd get when pairing a whole grain, a vegetable or fruit, and nuts or nut butter.

Remember that a snack should be small—just a little something to get you to your next meal. When snacks get too big, you run the risk of consuming too many calories. Choosing small portions helps prevent over-eating. Try these options:

  • Spread peanut butter on six whole grain crackers and serve with one ounce of cheese (about the size of a pair of dice).
  • Cut an apple into bite-size chunks and add them to one-half cup cottage cheese. Sprinkle one tablespoon chopped walnuts or pecans (and a little honey if you like sweetness).
  • Slice a whole grain pita into six wedges and serve with hummus and a handful of fresh berries on the side.
  • Pair a sliced apple or pear or some fresh grapes with whole grain crackers and a few thin slices of cheese.
  • Combine one cup plain low-fat yogurt with one-half cup blueberries or strawberry slices, and one-quarter cup chopped walnuts or almonds. Add just enough honey to suit your taste.
  • Spread almond butter on a piece of whole wheat toast and add a spoonful of 100% fruit spread. Serve with a glass of non-fat milk.
  • Serve olives and marinated red peppers with a piece of warm whole grain bread.
  • Bake your own tortilla chips and serve them with a chunky mango-black bean salsa.
  • Make a bowl of hot steel cut oatmeal and serve with a sliced banana, one-half cup berries, and a splash of milk or almond milk. Add a drizzle of honey and a few sliced almonds.
  • Toss up a small salad with spinach leaves, broccoli florets, tomato slices, one-quarter cup shredded cheese, and one tablespoon of your favorite dressing.
  • Use a high-speed blender to create smoothies, juices, and soups with fresh fruits and vegetables.

But what if you really want a "fun" snack? If you want a candy bar, potato chips or a cookie, be mindful of your portions. Savor the treat and honor your hunger and fullness cues.

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, 6th ed. Wadsworth Publishing Company; 2013. 

  • Smolin LA, Grosvenor, MB. Nutrition: Science and Applications, 3rd ed. Wiley Publishing Company; 2013. 

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.